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The genius who began Manchester United’s remarkable 4000-game streak of academy excellence 



Every one of the 279 youth team players that have been part of Manchester United’s matchday squad over the past 82 years has their own story to tell, and plenty of those will be regaled this weekend as the club prepares to reach an extraordinary milestone. 

Take Billy Garton, for example. His big break came one September night in 1984 in a League Cup tie against Burnley. Still only 19 and without a car, the former defender took his usual route to Old Trafford via the No. 58 bus from Ordsall Lane to Trafford Bar as he had done so often as a fan, sneaking in to watch the last 20 minutes of games when the gates were opened in the hope of a glimpse of his hero Martin Buchan.

Little could the man sat on that bus reading a newspaper carrying the back page headline, “Billy the Kid”, in reference to Garton’s promotion, have known that the subject of that story was looking eagerly over his shoulder and on the cusp of realising a lifelong dream. Boots stuffed in a plastic bag, Garton crossed the forecourt at Old Trafford unrecognised before slipping into the players’ entrance. He celebrated a 4-0 win with a pint in the Jubilee Pub on the Salford council estate where he had been raised. 

Everton’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday will mark the 4000th consecutive game in which at least one youth team graduate has been included in United’s first team squad, a run that predates the outbreak of the Second World War and one of which a club arguably more synonymous with youth production than any other are justifiably proud.

It is a storied history and culture, one of the most fabled in sports, a tale of constant renewal and an uncrushable spirit encapsulated by the way they rebuilt in the aftermath of Munich in 1958 when a plane crash destroyed a team of precious homegrown talents destined for greatness.





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live score and latest goal updates from derby



No side likes to lose a derby. It’s a fierce battle for bragging rights (does anyone use that phrase other than in sport?!) which can see families divided and passions overflow. 

But this Manchester match up, the last of the decade, is for vastly different reasons a must-win for both Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. 

For the United manager it’s a case of simply trying to keep his job. 

It seems to happen that as soon as one club decide to sack their manager that a load follow suit. No sooner than Tottenham sacked Pochettino than Arsenal (Unai Emery), Waford (Quique Sánchez Flores) and Everton (Marco Silva) all followed suit within the next two weeks. Even by the standards of the bonkers Premier League owners – moneybags men who always want success yesterday – that’s some going. So for that reason alone Solskjaer needs a result at the Etihad today – sacking the boss is clearly the festive fashion this year and Ole will not want to add his name to the sorry list. 

United have made their worst start to a season since 1989 and with every defeat the death knells surrounding the Norwegian’s place in the dugout grow louder. A loss to their city rivals could be too much for a twitchy board to take.  





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Sacking Marco Silva won’t change anything at Everton



It’s unlikely a manager of Simeone’s calibre would be tempted by a move to a mid-table Premier League side regardless but swinging wildly from possession-focused managers like Martinez and Koeman to the more pragmatic Allardyce, Moyes or uber-defensive Simeone is the kind of thing a director of football is supposed to prevent from happening. 

If Everton are after a young, talented, ambitious, multilingual coach with experience of winning competitions, there are few in Europe with a better CV than the 42-year-old, league-winning Silva, who the club’s director of football, Marcel Brands, is said to be extremely reluctant to relieve of his duties. 

The biggest issue is Everton’s player recruitment. Brands is trying to steer the club towards an envisioned destination, signing players who fit a particular profile (under 23 years old, high potential, resale value), but has enjoyed mixed success. It takes time to build a team and Everton are only two years in to Brands’ project.





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